Page Summary: Quotes & Links to 30+ Science News Reports on the Threat of “Superbug” Microbes that are Resistant to Antibiotics. Reports reveal the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture accelerate the resistance of micro-organisms; making antibiotics useless against disease.
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A 2014 BBC news report titled “Superbugs to kill ‘more than cancer’ by 2050” states that “Drug resistant infections will kill an extra 10 million people a year worldwide – more than currently die from cancer – by 2050 unless action is taken, a study says. They are currently implicated in 700,000 deaths each year…” – http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30416844
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Scientific American, 2014: “Antibiotic Resistance Will Kill 300 Million People by 2050. New report says pharma companies make more money from other drugs, so shy away from new antibiotic development… This scenario is set out in a new report which looks to a future where drug resistance is not tackled between now and 2050.”
It refers to this UK government report: “The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance” at https://amr-review.org/
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New York Times, 2018: “Antibiotics in Meat Could Be Damaging Our Guts.”
Excerpts: “The growing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics causes some 23,000 American deaths a year and $34 billion in financial losses annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The C.D.C. also estimates that more than 400,000 United States residents become ill with infections caused by antibiotic-resistant food-borne bacteria every year, with about one in five resistant infections caused by germs from food and animals…
Those resistant bacterial strains can be transferred to humans by contact with animals or raw meat and possibly through the consumption of undercooked meat…
Beyond the threat of drug-resistant illness, there is evidence of another risk from antibiotic overuse in pigs, poultry and cattle: the possibility that people who consume antibiotic-laced meat will get some of the drugs, as well as resistant bacteria, into their own digestive tracts — with potentially harmful results.
A growing body of scientific research also shows that the antibiotics we take as medicine can disrupt our so-called gut microbiome, the bacteria that live happily in our stomach and intestines and that are the key to our ability to properly digest food and process fats. This disruption has been linked to the rise of noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, juvenile diabetes, asthma and allergies. Some researchers also believe that alterations in the gut microbiome have led to an increase in the incidence of autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease…”
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From a 2013 statement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection. Antibiotic-resistant infections can happen anywhere. Data show that most happen in the general community; however, most deaths related to antibiotic resistance happen in healthcare settings such as hospitals and nursing homes…” – http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Antibiotics must be used judiciously in humans and animals because both uses contribute to the emergence, persistence, and spread of resistant bacteria. Resistant bacteria in food-producing animals are of particular concern. Food animals serve as a reservoir of resistant pathogens and resistance mechanisms that can directly or indirectly result in antibiotic resistant infections in humans. For example, resistant bacteria may be transmitted to humans through the foods we eat… Scientists around the world have provided strong evidence that antibiotic use in food-producing animals can have a negative impact on public health….” – http://www.cdc.gov/narms/animals.html
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From a 2017 article in the New York Times: “A potentially greater problem is superbugs, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that proliferate among confined animals in factory farms. About 75 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States and the European Union countries are used in agriculture. The indiscriminate use of these drugs is aimed at preventing illness among animals at these densely packed farms and speeding up their growth, which has proved largely unsuccessful.
As a result of this widespread use, humans unwittingly consume antibiotics in low doses from the meat we eat and the treated water we drink from waterways polluted by animal waste. As bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics, many may soon be rendered powerless even against maladies like pneumonia or urinary tract infections…”
Article: “Health Leaders Must Focus on the Threats From Factory Farms” at
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2018 report: “Nearly 80 percent of meat in U.S. supermarkets contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit environmental research organization.
The bacteria — often called “superbugs” — were resistant to at least one of 14 antibiotics tested for in 2015 by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, a federal-public health partnership.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria were found on 79 percent of ground turkey samples tested; 71 percent of pork chops; 62 percent of ground beef; and 36 percent of chicken breasts, wings and thighs, the findings showed.
Antibiotic resistance is a serious threat to health and food security, according to the World Health Organization…”
In the five years since our original analysis, “Superbugs Invade American Supermarkets,” not much has changed…”
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World Health Organization, November 2017: “WHO is recommending that farmers and the food industry stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals.
The new WHO recommendations aim to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics that are important for human medicine by reducing their unnecessary use in animals. In some countries, approximately 80% of total consumption of medically important antibiotics is in the animal sector, largely for growth promotion in healthy animals.
Over-use and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance. Some types of bacteria that cause serious infections in humans have already developed resistance to most or all of the available treatments, and there are very few promising options in the research pipeline.
“A lack of effective antibiotics is as serious a security threat as a sudden and deadly disease outbreak,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO…”
From article at http://who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/antibiotics-animals-effectiveness/en/
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Guardian October 2017: “Antibiotic resistance could spell end of modern medicine, says chief medic… England’s chief medical officer has repeated her warning of a “post-antibiotic apocalypse” as she urged world leaders to address the growing threat of antibiotic resistance… Prof Dame Sally Davies said that if antibiotics lose their effectiveness it would spell “the end of modern medicine”. Without the drugs used to fight infections, common medical interventions such as caesarean sections, cancer treatments and hip replacements would become incredibly risky and transplant medicine would be a thing of the past, she said…
Health experts have previously said resistance to antimicrobial drugs could cause a bigger threat to mankind than cancer…
Each year about 700,000 people around the world die due to drug-resistant infections including tuberculosis, HIV and malaria. If no action is taken, it has been estimated that drug-resistant infections will kill 10 million people a year by 2050…” at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/13/antibiotic-resistance-could-spell-end-of-modern-medicine-says-chief-medic
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EcoWatch, November 2017 “The threat of antibiotic overprescription has been clear since the 1960s, according to Tom Philpott, co-author of “Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats”.
But it wasn’t until this past January that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made any kind of regulatory change to address the escalating crisis, asking that the livestock industry no longer use antibiotics to accelerate the growth of animals. However, the language used by the FDA has left an opening for the agriculture industry to continue its use of antibiotic treatments, allowing them to be prescribed and used as preventative medicine—treating antibiotics as prophylactics, with plenty of room for indiscretion.
While it is a highly regarded resource, WHO is not a regulatory body, and any reform must happen at the level of government. The troubling lack of concern from the federal government leaves little hope that there will be any change to FDA standards. Given the situation, vegan diets may be one of the main ways to resist the increasing use of antibiotics in livestock, protecting both animal rights and our own immunity to pathogens…”
From article at https://www.ecowatch.com/antibiotic-apocalypse-livestock-force-fed-2509349786.html
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A 2015 article in New Scientist reports: “Resistance to last-resort antibiotic has now spread across globe… The last drug has fallen. Bacteria carrying a gene that allows them to resist polymyxins, the antibiotics of last resort for some kinds of infection, have been found in Denmark and China, prompting a global search for the gene. The discovery means that gram-negative bacteria, which cause common gut, urinary and blood infections in humans, can now become “pan-resistant”, with genes that defeat all antibiotics now available…. It is thought to have emerged originally in farm animals fed colistin as an antibiotic growth promoter… An origin in China seems most probable as antibiotics are widely fed to animals to promote growth. The bulk of the 12,000 tonnes of colistin fed to livestock yearly around the world is used in China… Antibiotic growth promoters have been banned in Europe precisely because they promote drug-resistant bacteria… In 2012, the World Health Organization called colistin critically important for human health, meaning its use in animals should be limited to avoid promoting resistance. Yet in 2013, the European Medicines Agency reported that polymyxins were the fifth most heavily used type of antibiotic in European livestock…”
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From an article by Consumers Union (USA): “Approximately 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used in meat and poultry production.
The vast majority is used on healthy animals to promote growth, or prevent disease in crowded or unsanitary conditions… Since antibiotics have been used so widely and for so long, antibiotic resistance has become a major public health threat… In response, there has been a concerted effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others to encourage doctors and patients to use antibiotics more wisely. Unfortunately, little progress has been made to reduce the use of antibiotics on farms, where most of these drugs are administered…” – https://consumersunion.org/news/the-overuse-of-antibiotics-in-food-animals-threatens-public-health-2/
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The Guardian, 2017: “Antibiotic apocalypse’: doctors sound alarm over drug resistance. The terrifying prospect that even routine operations will be impossible to perform has been raised by experts alarmed by the rise of drug-resistant genes…
Scientists attending a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology reported they had uncovered a highly disturbing trend. They revealed that bacteria containing a gene known as mcr-1 – which confers resistance to the antibiotic colistin – had spread round the world at an alarming rate since its original discovery 18 months earlier. In one area of China, it was found that 25% of hospital patients now carried the gene.
Colistin is known as the “antibiotic of last resort”. In many parts of the world doctors have turned to its use because patients were no longer responding to any other antimicrobial agent. Now resistance to its use is spreading across the globe…
Unless action is taken to halt the practices that have allowed antimicrobial resistance to spread and ways are found to develop new types of antibiotics, we could return to the days when routine operations, simple wounds or straightforward infections could pose real threats to life…”
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This site contains pages with hundreds of science reports on: the higher rates of disease & death associated with eating red meat, dairy, chicken/poultry, eggs, fish/seafood; & of the improved health & longer lifespans associated with eating healthy plant-based diets featuring fruits & vegetables, nuts & soy; as well as on common nutritional deficiencies; of why so many doctors fail at nutrition; of how big business influences food politics; the evolution of human diets; & on the negative impact of animal agriculture on climate change, deforestation, fishless oceans, biodiversity loss, antibiotic-resistant superbugs; & more.
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A 2017 article on the BBC website titled “How we can stop antibiotic resistance?”
Excerpts: “It’s been dubbed “the end of modern medicine… “The world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era in which common infections will once again kill. If current trends continue, sophisticated interventions, like organ transplantation, joint replacements, cancer chemotherapy, and care of pre-term infants, will become more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake. This may even bring the end of modern medicine as we know it.”
That’s what the Director-General of the World Health Organization said last April when she appeared before the United Nations. Dr Margaret Chan wanted to warn of what many deem to be one of the greatest threats to global health today: the increasingly common problem of infections that do not respond to antibiotic treatment.
It sounds alarmist, but it might actually not be alarmist enough…
How big is the problem?
It’s hard to say for sure, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the US alone there are about 23,000 people who die every year from antibiotic-resistant infections. For example, they estimate that resistance to antibiotics that treat Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) causes almost 500,000 infections in the US every year, which lead to about 15,000 deaths. (But Amanda Jezek, a spokesperson specialising in policy and government relations at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, a group that represents many of the country’s infectious disease doctors and scientists, says the overall number of deaths is a conservative estimate and likely higher.
Meanwhile, a 2015 study published in Nature found that global antibiotic consumption went up 30% between 2000 and 2010…
How did we get here?
Plain and simple, humanity has drastically overused antibiotics.
Not only have doctors spent decades handing out antibiotics to any patient that asked (regardless of whether or not they were needed), some countries still consider antibiotics to be over-the-counter medicines – as easy to purchase as Anadin or Tylenol…
On top of that, for many decades agricultural pursuits worldwide have fed huge amounts of antibiotics to livestock and food-producing animals – not only as a means to reduce infection, but also as a method to increase growth. And, while humans do not ingest those antibiotics, they do ingest and handle the bacteria that resides within those animals. So if those animals carried drug-resistant bacteria, you potentially could, as well…
So why not just develop new antibiotics that the bacteria can’t resist? It has been several decades since a drug company developed and sold a new antibiotic. “You would like to have new antibiotics to treat infections with resistant bacteria, but if you look at the timeline [of new releases] it is empty for almost 30 years,” Sprenger says.
That’s because the process of developing any new drug is extremely expensive and the potential profit in an antibiotic after that massive investment is relatively low…”
Full article at http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170607-how-we-can-stop-antibiotic-resistance
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A 2016 article on The Guardian newspaper’s website is titled “Secrecy surrounding antibiotic use on Australian farms sparks superbug fears.”
Excerpt: “Experts say there is a lack of transparency around the way superbugs could spread throughout the food supply.
A lack of transparency on antibiotic use by the Australian farming industry is undermining efforts to prevent superbugs developing and spreading through the food supply, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist has said.
The comments from Prof Peter Collignon come as the UN general assembly holds a meeting involving all 193 member states to develop a plan to fight the threat of antibiotic resistance. It is only the fourth time the assembly has met on a public health issue.
Collignon said that while antibiotic resistance in humans through overprescribing of the drugs was part of the problem, the use of antibiotics in the food industry was being “widely abused around the world”.
“There is a lack of appropriate controls in Australia for antibiotic use in food,” said Collignon, who has sat on a number of World Health Organisation advisory committees on antibiotic resistance.
“We know the US pork industry uses four to five times the amount of antibiotics as the industry in Denmark. In Australia we don’t really know, we don’t know which antibiotic is given for which animal and how much…
The report also found that Australian hospitals had the highest rates of resistant enterococcus, a bacteria that can cause a range of infections in patients undergoing invasive surgery, in the world. In 2014 Australia had the highest rates of vancomycin resistance in enterococcus faecium in the world…”
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From a 2016 article in the Sydney Morning Herald is titled “The real drug problem that could cause a global catastrophe.” It reports: “An 18-month review into antimicrobial resistance warns that superbugs will kill more people by 2050 than cancer does in 2016, if left unchecked… It’s true that to a large extent we’ve done it to ourselves... We’ve often taken antibiotics only until we felt well. Then we’ve infected other people with the bugs that survived and no longer feared the antibiotic. And we’ve handed them out where they are not needed and dosed up pigs and chickens on overstocked farms in conditions that breed resistance. Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae developed first in pigs before jumping to humans through raw pork…” – http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-real-drug-problem-that-could-cause-a-global-catastrophe-20160603-gpaq0l.html
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A 2013 article by the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, based at the prestigious Tufts University, states: “It is estimated that over one-half of the antibiotics in the U.S. are used in food animal production… In both human and veterinary medicine, the risk of developing resistance rises each time bacteria are exposed to antimicrobials. Resistance opens the door to treatment failure for even the most common pathogens and leads to an increasing number of infections. The mounting evidence of the relationship between antimicrobial use in animal husbandry and the increase in bacterial resistance in humans has prompted several reviews of agricultural practices by scientific authorities in a number of countries, including the US…
Most food animals in the US are exposed to antimicrobials in feed, water, or by injection at some point during their lives. Fecal waste from food animals treated with antimicrobials, which is often composted and spread as fertilizer, is implicated in environmental contamination with resistant bacteria…” – http://emerald.tufts.edu/med/apua/about_issue/antibiotic_agri.shtml
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From a 2015 report in the journal Evolutionary Applications: “Antibiotic-resistant infections have been conservatively estimated to cause some 23,000 deaths each year in the USA alone (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2013) and have been described in apocalyptic terms by public health authorities. If agriculture is a contributor to the spread of resistance, immediate action is necessary to limit this source of human, as well as animal, morbidity, and mortality…
Antibiotic use in humans has been shown to select antibiotic-resistant strains, and the same should be expected in livestock, which have been reported to receive over 13 million kilograms, or approximately 80% of all antibiotics, in the USA annually. Much of this is not in veterinary medicine, but in the form of continuous subtherapeutic application of antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention in intensively farmed animals.
Unsurprisingly, antibiotics used in this context have been associated with a high frequency of resistant bacteria in the gut flora of chickens, swine, and other food-producing animals. Without appropriate regulation, it is thought that a large diverse reservoir for resistant bacteria and resistance genes could facilitate the emergence and spread of resistant pathogens to humans, and even the ongoing transmission of such resistant organisms within the human population…”
Reference: “Antibiotics in agriculture and the risk to human health: how worried should we be?”, Evol Appl. 2015 Mar; 8(3): 240–247. Published online 2014 Aug 2. doi: 10.1111/eva.12185; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380918/
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A 2012 study published in the peer-reviewed Public Health Reports journal states: “Antibiotic use plays a major role in the emerging public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. Although the majority of antibiotic use occurs in agricultural settings, relatively little attention has been paid to how antibiotic use in farm animals contributes to the overall problem of antibiotic resistance...
In our review, we found that the use of antibiotics in food animals is widespread, yet poorly characterized. Furthermore, in existing studies, neither the risks to human health nor the benefits to animal production have been well studied. We also found a lack of consistency in national and international policies…
The potential threat to human health resulting from inappropriate antibiotic use in food animals is significant, as pathogenic-resistant organisms propagated in these livestock are poised to enter the food supply and could be widely disseminated in food products. Commensal bacteria found in livestock are frequently present in fresh meat products and may serve as reservoirs for resistant genes that could potentially be transferred to pathogenic organisms in humans…
It is evident that at present, the resources devoted to studying the role of antibiotic use in food animals—both in terms of funding and scientific inquiry—are insufficient. It is now critical that agricultural use of antibiotics be recognized as one of the major contributors to the development of resistant organisms that result in life-threatening human infections and included as part of the strategy to control the mounting public health crisis of antibiotic resistance.”
Reference: “A Review of Antibiotic Use in Food Animals: Perspective, Policy, and Potential”, Public Health Rep. 2012 Jan-Feb; 127(1): 4–22. PMCID: PMC3234384; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3234384/
“Public Health Reports (PHR) is the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General & U.S. Public Health Service” quoted from http://journals.sagepub.com/home/phr
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From a 1998 report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal: “Microbial Resistance to antibiotics is on the rise, in part because of inappropriate use of antibiotics in human medicine but also because of practices in the agricultural industry. Intensive animal production involves giving livestock animals large quantities of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent infection. These uses promote the selection of antibiotic resistance in bacterial populations. The resistant bacteria from agricultural environments may be transmitted to humans, in whom they cause disease that cannot be treated by conventional antibiotics…”
Reference: “Agricultural use of antibiotics and the evolution and transfer of antibiotic-resistant bacteria”, CMAJ. 1998 Nov 3;159(9):1129-36; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9835883
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A 2014 article titled “Understand That There Are Antibiotics in Your Fish”
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A 2017 article in The Australian newspaper reports: “Antibiotic use soars at Tassal fish farm – Despite promising to end antibiotic use, Australia’s largest salmon producer Tassal increased its use 75 per cent in a year…” at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/companies/antibiotic-use-soars-at-tassal-fish-farm/news-story/
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A 2009 article titled “Farmacology: Johns Hopkins researchers are investigating a troubling potential source of resistant pathogens: the American farm.”
Excerpt: “researchers at Johns Hopkins [University] and around the world assembling evidence that the industrial farming of chickens, pigs, and cattle is cultivating more than poultry and livestock — it’s cultivating bacteria that medicine is losing the ability to fight. Antimicrobial drugs, including antibiotics like penicillin, ciprofloxacin, and methicillin, kill pathogenic bacteria.
But they simultaneously drive the resistance that is bacteria’s defense, especially when administered in low, subtherapeutic doses. Scientists estimate that 50 percent to 80 percent of all antimicrobials in the United States are not used by doctors to treat sick people or animals but are added to farm animal feed, mostly in such subtherapeutic dosages. Public health researchers like Silbergeld are convinced that this nontherapeutic use of antimicrobials is building dangerous genetic reservoirs of resistance. If they are right, industrial agriculture is fostering and dispersing drug-resistant bacteria that impair medicine’s ability to protect the public from them.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that livestock and poultry produce 335 million tons of manure per year, which is one way resistant pathogens get out of animals and into the environment. That’s 40 times as much fecal waste as humans produce annually…”
The full article is at http://pages.jh.edu/~jhumag/0609web/farm.html
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This set of articles were compiled for
Pages on this Site:
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Eating Meat linked to Higher Rates & Risk of Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease & Early Death
Excerpts & links to medical studies, articles & reports on the links between meat consumption and increased incidences of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and early mortality (a shorter lifespan); also to reports on how cancers are increasing in young people.
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Scientific Studies on Health Advantages of Vegans & Vegetarians
Quotes & links to articles in science, medical & health journals that report great benefits vegetarians and vegans generally have including longer lives with less of the chronic degenerative diseases like cancer, cardiovascular heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity as well as lower blood pressure, hypertension and blood cholesterol levels.
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Mass Extinction Loss of Biodiversity caused by Humans
Excerpts & links to articles in news media science journals about the current ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ known also as the ‘Holocene Extinction’ or ‘Anthropocene Extinction’ as it is largely caused by human activities.
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Dairy Milk Health Problems – Issues & Risks for Related Disease & Illness
This page contains quotes & links for studies & articles in science journals, news media & by medical doctors; on the association of drinking milk to higher rates of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
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Risk of Infectious Disease Epidemics from Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria due to Animal Agriculture
This page features quotes & links to articles in news media and science journals about the rise of microbes that are resistant to antibiotics; posing a grave threat to all of us; from 50% to 80% of antibiotics are (mis-)used in animal agriculture industries.
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How the Meat & Dairy Industry Influences Politics, Government, Education, News & Media
This page features quotes & links to reports that expose how the animal agriculture industries (meat, dairy, poultry) influence government, politics, the education schooling system and news media in order to promote their interests.
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Eating Seafood & Overfishing is Destroying Oceans, Rivers & Wildlife
Excerpts from articles about the marine ecosystem collapse that is happening now in oceans, seas & rivers due to over-fishing and the toxic pollution in waterways from land-based animal agriculture meat-farming; worsening climate change; threatening the entire food chain.
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Studies Find Eating Fish Seafood Not So Healthy With Raised Risks of Disease
Articles from science journals & news reports that dispute the health claims made regards eating fish; some even find higher rates of heart disease and cancer among seafood consumers.
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Are Soy Foods Healthy or Not? Doctors & Nutrition Experts Refute Some Myths
A collection of quotes & links for articles by doctors, dietitians & nutrition experts who refute & rebut the negative claims made regards “the soy food debate”
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For Archives of Related Memes see:
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How We Are Eating Our Future
This site’s original 2012 page with excerpts from articles in science journals and news media about how what we choose to eat can: i) accelerate or slow down climate change and the related environmental catastrophes we face; and ii) increase or reduce our risks for chronic illness and disease. The evidence and body of opinion against the animal agriculture livestock industry is particularly compelling and damning.
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